The surroundings: Swedish Lapland
Historical retrospect and geographical context
Swedish Lapland (Region of Norrbotten) is almost a quarter of all of Sweden. Here, 250,000 people live in a variety of geographical settings, from mountains and forests in the north, to the shoreline of the Baltic Sea in the south.
The 3rd International Conference will be held at Sörbyn Lodge, which is situated in the heart of the Råne river valley. The Lodge sits on Lake Vitträsket which is famous for it cold, clear water. The area is surrounded with hilly forests and lakes which give the area its distinctiveness. There are ample opportunities for various outdoor activities to study the local history and cultural environment. The Lodge is only a few hundred meters from the Råne rivers greatest calm water, Degerselet. Here you can find a small archipelago with little islands and stony shores as the river approaches the Baltic Sea. Råneälven is Swedens longest undeveloped river, protected from hydro power development, unlike most of Sweden’s major rivers. It runs all the way from the mountains to the Baltic coast at Råneå.
The village of Sörbyn is found in the forest area of Boden County. This area has been inhabited for several thousand years. Discovery of the first settlers are dated to the Bronze Age approx. 1,000 BC. The river valley has been an important part of the Swedish industrialization and peaked in the 1940’s with a population of 700, which since then, has been declining. Sörbyn of today has less than 200 year round inhabitants. However, tourism is a growing sector which attracts newcomers. The closest city is Boden and the biggest city nearby is the Luleå with close to 80,000 inhabitants. This is also the regional capital. Luleå is by the coast 70 kilometers from Sörbyn.
This small village is the birthplace of Per Andersson, the man who later, in the early 18th century, was recognized as the discoverer of the ore which gave rise to the Gällivare mining company. His finding had an impact on the river valley for several centuries. From his discovery, transportation networks arose, and later small scale ironworks were established giving new and unusual opportunities for extra income among the locals. In the beginning the ore was transported by reindeer and sleigh between Gällivare and the coast where the furnaces were found. A path filled with culture and history has been created to follow this historical development – “The Path of the Ore”. His discovery also led to the development of farming and forestry to support the mining operations, and these became the main sources of income in the valley during the last century. There is a memorial in the village celebrating the memory of Per Andersson and the industrial development which for 300 years has created work and often is referred to as The Norrbotten Technological Megasystem. Recently the fastest growing business sector is small scale entrepreneurship.
Animal life is rich with a full range from wild game and all sorts of birds. With a little luck you may see moose, reindeer, lynx, bear, fox and many, many other animals out in the wild, animals which are all part of the northern Swedish forest eco-system.
As noted, the natural environment in the area is hilly forestland mixed with moors and lakes. This gives a good opportunity for various nature-based activities such as fishing, hunting and adventure hiking. Animal life is rich with a full range from wild game and all sorts of birds. With a little luck you may see moose, reindeer, lynx, bear, fox and many, many other animals out in the wild, animals which are all part of the northern Swedish forest eco-system.
Vegetation is rich and full of many lichens and moss growth which demands an extremely clean environment. For those interested in orchids there are a number to be found in various places. In the area you will find nature reserves, and the river is protected by legislation since 1986
Sorbyn Lodge is situated by the small bay which serves as the village swimming place. The crystal clear water has attracted the villagers for as long as anyone can remember. The bathing place was dedicated in 1937 and up until now it has been the compulsory activity every summer for the village children to learn to swim there. Nowadays you will find an inviting, child friendly beach with both grass and sand, and cabins to change in. The water temperature can reach up to plus 20 C in the height of the summer.
The Sörbyn Park was erected by as a non-profit activity in the 1930’s and has for many decades been one of the most popular event grounds in Norrbotten. So it is no longer. Now there are other players who benefit from the Park. If there is a little leprechaun living there he will have many stories to tell: of Swedish and World well known artists who have been there; of events which attracted thousands of visitors; of outdoor dances of the past and present, with local Musicians playing all through the summer night; and of how the dedication and love for a village creates the base for Sörbyn Park to be and to have been a natural meeting place filled with joy and happiness for the locals in almost a century.